Week 3…looking for a subject with spiritual change

Last week we interviewed the director of The Foundation of Light, Melissa Hoffman, Rabbi Scott at the local synagogue downtown and a Cornell anthropologist that specializes in Buddhism. All of the interviews went well but we are hoping to expand now from religious leaders to people who attend these spiritual gatherings. Leaders are always able to preach their beliefs, the real story is in every day people who are trying to figure out where they lay on the religious spectrum. That’s what we’re hoping will make our documentary interesting.

Today I spoke with Melissa Hoffman about attending an event at the Foundation of Light. This is ideal right now for our doc because we have a good number of interviews under our belt but not so much footage of religious events and congregations. This will also give us the opportunity to speak to someone at one of the events that is going through some sort of spiritual change. The foundation of light has many different alternate types of spiritual gatherings offered and we are hoping to find someone who is going through any kind of change in their spirituality.

Some of the events we are considering going to are Dances of the Universal Peace, Sunday morning meditations, African Drumming and Dance and Cheroke Medicine Monday.  We will decide tonight when our group meets!



Week 2 – We may be put in jail…

This last week we had scheduled two interviews for Tuesday, the 21st, with a psychic and an anthropologist.  Unfortunately the psychic had to cancel but we still went to go interview David Holmberg, who is an anthropologist who specializes in the Nepal Himalayas and Buddhism and teaches at Cornell University.

Our interview was at 5 pm on Tuesday with David and we learned one major aspect about being prepared for an interview – make sure you have your SD cards.  However we made it and set up for the interview easily now that we are more comfortable with using the GY-700 cameras.  David discussed a lot about the history of Buddhism and about the beliefs of both the religious leaders as well as their followers.  He was able to give us a lot of information about the background of their traditions and a bit about how it has changed more recently, where people are not as devoted to the old ways.

Now we aren’t actually going to jail, but Cornell parking services are probably not so happy with us.

Next week we are looking into talking to people at religious services and looking for more people who have gone through a religion change.  One person who has expressed interest, Torben Russo, grew up with a Protestant mother and a Roman Catholic father and had dabbled in multiple religions and is now a Pagan/Wiccan.  We hope to find more people that have changed their religious beliefs and talk to them about why they implemented the change.

Week 1-Complete!


       Last week, we performed two separate interviews in one day.  That means we’re getting an awesome start.  We spoke to Melissa Hoffman, director of  Foundation of Light at 9am on Thursday the 16th and then spoke to Rabbi Scott Glass of  Temple Beth El at 3pm the same day.  These interviews are already morphing our production question.

Melissa Hoffman, director of the Foundation of Light

Hoffman described the Foundation of Light as a community where all religions are accepted.  She said it is not natural to choose just one religion because people should be open to learning from one another.

Scott Glass is Rabbi at Temple Beth El in downtown Ithaca

Glass expressed that religion is necessary to having a good sense of community.
Planning Process:
      The three of us are working together well.  We meet every Sunday for an hour and a half just to make sure we are on the same page for the week.  We watch previously conducted interviews and take notes, we keep each other updated on our sources, we form interview questions and we make sure we at least have 2 interviews scheduled per week.
 This Week:
We have an interview with a local psychic and David Holmberg, an anthropologist specializing in Buddhism at Cornell University. We will be contacting religious community members of all kinds for week 3 and possibly attending an event at the Foundation of Light.

How Are People Spiritual Today?

This is our main production question. We think people are straying from traditional religion such as Judaism or Catholicism.  Are they pursuing alternative religions? Why are they doing this?  Is it about self fulfillment?

We plan on speaking to leaders from multiple spiritual communities as well as the people who are members of these communities.  Psychologists, anthropologists and historians may also have important insight on this subject.

We are aware that our story may change during production, but we are open to this change.  We are ready to report the truth about what we observe about spirituality in our society.

We’ll keep you updated.  Please feel free to comment over the next few months as we complete our production.


Mary Apesos

Carly Boyle

Carolyn Cutrone